SAN LEANDRO -- A ban on legal medical marijuana dispensaries and growing operations was extended to September 2011, while city leaders try to come up with an official policy regulating such businesses.
The City Council on Monday narrowly rejected a proposal that would have extended it to September 2012.
"I believe 10 months gives staff plenty of time to study an ordinance," said Councilman Jim Prola. "And if we can't get it done in that amount of time, we can ask for another extension."
Earlier this month, the council held a study session on the matter that included extensive testimony from San Leandro police regarding the proliferation of small-scale illegal growing operations in the city.
Prola said such clandestine operations are dangerous because they're often not up to code and prone to electrical fires and attract break-ins and other crime.
But police Officer Daniel Fernandez said Monday that even if the city adopts a policy similar to Oakland's -- one that allows larger, more secure operations -- it would do little to shut down smaller grows.
"The type of growers in San Leandro, the ones working out of one or two residences, it's not going to put them out of business," he said. "There's too much money involved "... and there's still going to be a market for them."
School board member Mike Katz urged the city to take a look at how an ordinance could bring in tax dollars in a time of fiscal need.
"When the city feels the need for something like (sales tax increase) Measure Z, it seems a shame we would dismiss the possibility of business (tax revenue) from these facilities," Katz said.
The 10-month moratorium passed with five votes, Joyce Starosciak dissenting. Starosciak had supported a longer, 22-month moratorium.
Mayor Tony Santos was absent because he's on vacation.